Over time, Brynn, Jack, and Alex, and Junkyard of course, carve out a new life for themselves. With the help of Dr. Harlan and his assistants they are able to get safely off the grid, lying low from everyone hunting them down. Right away they know things can't stay like this, moving from place to place every few months working any jobs they can get their hands on, so they write down every detail they can remember from their grand adventure and work on sculpting it into a book. Harlan then sets them up with his publisher and they get their story out there within eight months. It is an immediate success, in both the alien fanatic community and nationwide. The publicity acts as a security blanket. Now, if anything were to happen to them, it would only prove their story to be true and cause people to rise up against the government. So gradually, they come out of hiding. Jack buys the car of his dreams, the honest way. They buy a house out in the Nevada farmlands, a big two-story house with a wraparound porch and a big grassy pasture. Alex could probably by now return to the life she left behind, but instead she stays with them. Brynn firmly believes it is because of Jack, even though Alex denies it. Alex and Jack have slowly gotten closer and closer the past several months, but the two of them are too oblivious of their feelings to act on them. Brynn knows it is only a matter of time though.
The UFO Convention then rolls back around and they are invited to give a conference on their book. Jack and Brynn are instantly wary. They have not once set foot back in Las Vegas in the past year. Brynn hasn't even attended public school during all that time, with Alex homeschooling her. Because there is still one fear they have not rid themselves of: Mr. Wolfe. Wolfe's men have caught up with them twice. Once, when Jack got a call on the phone in their motel room, warning them to turn themselves in to Mr. Wolfe in exchange for leniency. The other time Brynn saw the guys from the taxi lot, when she and Alex were walking to the grocery store. Both times they had automatically fled, not stopping for days until they were sure they had lost them. But it is just a reminder that Mr. Wolfe is never going to let them go. More specifically, he's never going to let his daughter go. He wants back what's his.
However, Brynn agrees that they should go to the UFO Convention. Perhaps if they go big enough and loud enough, then even Mr. Wolfe will be scared away. It is the only chance they have to finally be free.
So they go. And they draw a massive crowd, leaving standing room only in the conference room. Brynn sits in the front row, Junkyard sitting at her feet, and just watches Jack and Alex give their speeches and answer questions. She tunes most of it out. She thought about joining them up there, at first, but she couldn't bring herself to. Talking about Seth and Sara, it still hurts too much. She still has the GPS device, carrying it around with her wherever she goes in the messenger bag she miraculously managed not to lose during the whole ordeal. There hasn't been a peep from it, and she's starting to get worried. She knows that everything will probably take some time, convincing the government against invasion and planning out everything that needs to be done to save their planet, but a part of her worries that something may have gone wrong. Or, that maybe Seth isn't going to keep his promise of coming back to her, no matter what happens.
The room erupts into applause, shaking Brynn out of her thoughts. Seth cares about her, she knows that. He'll come back to her. He just needs more time. Even though it has already been a year.
She takes Junkyard's leash and joins Jack and Alex as they head out of the convention, moving through an enormous sea of fans the entire way out. Jack and Alex pause every so often to sign autographs, with people even occasionally asking for hers. She may not like to be in the spotlight but she is still part of the book.
And that's when she sees him. Out in the middle of the crowd stands Sebastian, a familiar, malicious grin on his face. She freezes, her hand blindly finding Jack's.
"What's up, kiddo?" Jack asks. Her fear has constricted her vocal cords so she just points. Jack follows her gaze and when he sees Sebastian he tenses. "Don't worry, Brynn," he growls. "I'm not letting them get to you again. We're both out. For good."
Jack whispers something to Alex and then they are quickly moving through the crowd, Jack and Alex on either side of her with Junkyard walking in front of her, acting as a shield. They climb into Jack's car, Jack and Alex up front, Brynn and Junkyard in the back, and Jack steps on the gas, weaving dangerously in and out of traffic to take them out of the city. The entire time Brynn is turned in her seat staring out the back window, waiting to see cars following them but as they leave Las Vegas behind and are engulfed by the desert it doesn't look like anyone is chasing them. She faces front again, sinking into her seat with a deep sigh.
"I was such an idiot," Jack says, clenching the steering wheel so hard his knuckles turn white. "We never should have gone to the convention. Planet Hollywood is Wolfe's backyard. I was stupid to think we could get in and out without him knowing."
"It's not your fault," Brynn says softly, suddenly feeling exhausted. "I'm the one who said we should go. If anyone's an idiot, it's me."
The three of them go silent, Junkyard plopping his head in Brynn's lap and she strokes his fur absently. After a few moment's Alex speaks up, "What is that beeping?"
Brynn's brow furrows, wondering what she's talking about, but then she hears it too. She looks around, trying to follow the sound, only to realize it is coming from her bag. She digs into it and pulls out the GPS device. Her heart stops and then picks up double time. The device is beeping and its lights are flashing. A bright grin spreads across her face. "It's Seth and Sara. They're coming."
Brynn sits on the window seat in her room, staring out at the night sky with her knees drawn to her chest. The GPS device sits on the seat next to her, still beeping quietly, along with her sketchbook turned to the picture of Seth she drew back in the cab. Over twenty-four hours have past but still no sign of Seth and Sara. She sighs, leaning her head against the cool window glass. She feels exhausted but there is no chance of sleep for her.
Someone knocks on her door and she tells them to enter without turning her head. She hears the door open and close, and then Alex sits next to her on the window seat wearing a bathrobe over her baggy T-shirt and red plaid pajama pants. "Can't sleep?" Alex asks.
"Nope," Brynn says simply.
"Is it the nightmares again?"
"Yep." The nightmares have returned the past few weeks, as they always do this time of year. "The anniversary of my mother's death is tomorrow. Well," she glances at the alarm clock sitting on her nightstand, "today, depending on how you look at it. I probably have another week or two before I'll be able to get a decent night's rest."
"It's more than just your mother's death though, isn't it?" Alex says, more of statement than a question.
Brynn is quiet for a moment before nodding. "I see Seth in them sometimes, too, now. Sometimes even Sara. I guess it's because they left on the anniversary." She tightens her hold on her legs. "I wish they would get here already, then maybe it won't be so bad, but…."
"But…what if they have to leave again? What if he can never stay?"
"Oh, sweaty." Alex shifts so that she can place her arm around Brynn's shoulders, drawing Brynn into her side. "I know that it's hard now, but during the short time I saw the two of you together I knew you had something special, something lasting. It'll all work out in the end."
"What, you mean like fate?"
"No, science. It's called Chaos Theory, the underlying order, inapparently random data." Alex fidgets excitedly like she always does when she starts talking about science. "Think about it, what were the odds that Seth and Sara would crash near Vegas during a UFO convention? I got into Jack's cab, you and them got into Jack's cab. Then we ended up in Harlan's mobile home loaded with his intel on where their ship was. That wasn't luck, it was a predetermined order of how things work in the universe. And you are a part of that order, too. You are part of the Chaos Theory. I think you and Seth were meant to come together. So chin up. The order always rights itself in the end."
Brynn nods, not really sure she gets it, because that sounds an awful lot like fate, but either way, it's a nice thought. That she and Seth are meant to be together. "Thanks, Alex." She stands, heading towards her bed. "I think I'll try to get some sleep now."
"Good idea." Alex goes towards the door and flips off the light once Brynn is settled into bed. "Goodnight, Brynn."
"Night, Alex." Alex then shuts the door and Brynn curls up on her side, holding the GPS device close and the sketchbook propped against the lamp on her nightstand so that it's almost as if Seth is watching over her. Closing her eyes, she focuses on the beeping of the device and nothing else, letting her mind drift off with the noise and hopefully to a place where she can dream better dreams.
It's raining this time, probably an influence of the rain they had the day before. The cold water soaks her clothes causing shivers to run through her body. Her limp hair clings to her face, making it hard to see. When she wipes the strands away she can see the car pull into the driveway in front of Mr. Wolfe's house. She gulps, already feeling the warm tears intermingle with the rain falling down her face. She doesn't want to see this again. Not again. But she does. Her mother is dragged out of the house, Mr. Wolfe walking out in front of her with a self-satisfied smile on his face. A man beside him holds an umbrella above Mr. Wolfe's head while everyone else gets drenched. Her mother is stuffed in the trunk, Brynn struggling against the hands holding her back, but this time the trunk hatch doesn't slam down right away. This time, someone else is dragged out of the house as well.
His hair turns dark in the rain and there are bruises covering his face, but it's him. Two men half drag, half carry him out of the house. He looks so worn, beaten, defeated. So unlike the brave, confident Seth she knows. She keeps waiting for him to do something, to phase through the hands holding him and fight his way out of this, to save her and her mother, but he just allows himself to be stuffed in the trunk as well. Finally he looks up at her, his blue eyes scared, pleading.
"Brynn," he says, his voice carrying to her despite the roar of the heavy downpour, "help me."
"Seth!" she screams, doubling her efforts to break free and run to him, but it's useless. "Let him go!" she pleads with her father. "Let him go! Take me instead!"
The trunk slams down."
"Please, take me instead!"
Mr. Wolfe gets into the car and it begins to drive off.
"Please, don't take him from me! Don't take him from me!"
She awakes with a gasp, sitting bolt upright in bed. Her heart races in her chest as if it is beating against her ribcage, wanting out. Taking deep breaths, she tries to calm herself. It was just a dream. It was only a dream. Then she realizes how quiet it is. She picks up the GPS device from where it sits on the nightstand and holds it up for her to see in the dim morning light. It's not beeping anymore. Its lights are off. What is that supposed to mean?
She climbs out of bed, leaving her room to knock on Alex's door. When there is no response she cracks the door open. The room is empty, the bed perfectly made. She goes to Jack's room across the hall, thinking maybe the two of them finally got their acts together, but it is empty as well. They're both gone. Maybe they're up already? She heads downstairs, the wooden floorboards creaking beneath her bare feet, but the living room and kitchen are both empty, the lights off. Opening the front door of the house, she looks through the screen door at the front yard. It's empty with only indentations in the grass showing where Jack's car should be. She clutches the device to her chest. Did they leave her? Did they all leave her?
"Of course they did, Brynnley," a dark voice says behind her, a voice she knows well. Brynn slowly turns to see her father sitting in the recliner in the living room. "Why would anyone want you around? What good are you to them?"
"They care about me," she tells him, her voice shaking slightly. "We're a family. And Seth-"
"Isn't coming back." He reaches into his jacket pocket and pulls out the GPS device. Brynn looks down at her hands, shocked to find them empty. "You do know what this means, don't you? No more lights. No more beeping. Completely dead." He stands, walking towards her. "It means they are not coming anymore."
She shakes her head, not wanting to believe him. "No…."
"It means they are not coming back to you."
"Seth is never coming back to you."
"No!" Brynn screams, her mind flinging from the dream back to reality but it still feels like Mr. Wolfe is there, taunting her. The room is dark and she can feel hands on her and she struggles, kicking and screaming. Voices say something but her half-asleep mind cannot comprehend the words. A light turns on and she closes her eyes tight against the brightness.
"Brynn, please, it is only us!" a voice says, a familiar voice, but when strong arms wrap around her she only struggles more. "Brynn, it is alright! You are safe!"
Then the smell of pine trees registers in her brain and she suddenly stops moving altogether. It even feels like she's stopped breathing. Because it can't be. It can't be.
"It is alright, Brynn," another voice says that sounds an awful lot like Sara. "We really are here."
"What is wrong?" the first voice says again and she covers her mouth with her hand to try and stop the whimper from coming out. Seth. It's Seth.
"She is afraid that this is a dream and that as soon as she opens her eyes she will wake up and we will disappear."
The arms tighten around her and they no longer feel constricting. They feel strong with the need to protect and comfort and they ease her fully out of her dream. She can feel the chest she's leaning against, hear a steady heartbeat against her ear. She can feel a hand cupping the side of her face, a thumb stroking her cheek to catch her tears, lips pressing against her forehead. "We are here, Brynn. I promised I would come back to you and now I have. So please, open your eyes."
With a steadying breath her eyes crack open and there he is, Seth, his face just inches from hers. His hair is slightly longer than she remembers and there are dark circles under his eyes almost as dark as hers, but it's him. Her Seth. She hesitantly lifts a hand, her fingertips ghosting along his jaw, and it feels real. A small smile forms on her lips. "Hey," she whispers.
He smiles back, his blue eyes turning soft in a way they only ever do for her. "Hello."
He adjusts his hold on her to bring her closer to him and she slips a hand into his hair to pull him closer to her. Their lips meet in the middle, first with just the lightest of touches, and then the kiss turns deeper with all of the need and longing and loneliness that has been building in both of them the past year coming out at once. If this is a dream, then she doesn't want to wake up. Not now, not ever.
When they finally pull apart they are both breathing heavy. "Are all of your greetings going to be like that?" he asks with a smirk.
Brynn chuckles breathlessly. "If you don't like it, I can stop."
Seth leans down to kiss her again. "No, that is something I could get used to."
"Does that mean you're going to be around more in order to get used to it?" she asks hopefully, playing with the collar of the blue shirt he wears without looking at him. She's afraid of what his answer will be, that he'll only be able to be here for a few weeks, or only a few days, and then he'll have to leave again.
Sara reaches over and takes her hand. "Oh, Brynn, it is not like that."
Brynn grins. "You have no idea how much I've missed talking like this."
"We have missed talking with you like this as well," Seth says. "And we will have many more opportunities in the future."
She sits up in bed to lean against the headboard, Seth and Sara moving to sit on either side of her with their hands joined. "What are you saying?"
Seth laces his fingers with hers, drawing her attention. He leans his head down so his eyes are level with hers. "I'm saying that we are staying, Brynn. Our government has accepted our parents' proposal to save our planet with the scientific discovery they made. However, more research is needed, here, on Earth."
"When you get what you need, will you have to go back?" she asks, not wanting to get her hopes up that this is still a temporary thing.
"We have brought equipment with us," Sara answers, "that will allow us to communicate with our parents back on Sorrel. We will be able to send and receive data on the experiment. There will be no need for us to return for some time."
"And when that time comes we will not be gone for as long," Seth says. "Both my sister and I have talked with our parents. When all of this is finished and our planet on the course to recovery, we wish to remain on Earth."
Brynn's mouth falls open and she looks back and forth between them. "Are you sure? Even you, Sara?"
Sara nods. "Yes, I am sure. Where my brother goes, I go. Rarely are twins ever separated on our planet and I would never dream of denying Seth the chance to be with you. I would also love to spend time with you, my sister, and Jack and Alex and Junkyard, too. Besides, it is not as if we will never be able to return home. Maybe when we visit you can come with us?"
She smiles. "I would like that very much. My sister."
She gets to keep them. Brynn gets to stay with both Seth and Sara, her best friends, her family. So much happiness wells up inside of her, overwhelming everything else, and she doesn't know what to say. So they don't say anything, just sit contentedly in the presence of loved ones until they each drift off to sleep.
So, Seth and Sara are back, they're here to stay, it should be the end now, right? Wrong. Brynn still has some stuff to take care of before her story is complete.
Hope you enjoyed, PLEASE REVIEW, and see you all next time!